-- --- ----
The Baldwin Library
/1 4L ///~
1 /1 7
SERIES OF TALES.
Deblt catet to ELabt Diana Soale.
AUTHOR OF MODERN ACCOMPLISHMENTS," MODERN SOCIETY,"
HILL AND VALLEY," CHABLIE SEYMOURB" SCOTLAND
AND THE SCOTCH," LIVES OF THE CASABS,"
JOURNEY OF LIFE," &C., &C.
Young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm,
And make mistakes for manhood to reform."
WILLIAM WHYTE AND CO.,
LATE BOOKSELLERS TO QUEEN ADELAIDE.
LONDON: LONGMAN AND CO. DUBLIN: W. CURRY AND CO.
ANDREW JACK, PRINTER,
IT is now eight years since a merry deputation of
young people presented themselves before the au-
thor, to make a united request that she would pub-
lishacontinuationofHOLIDAY HOUSE. One lively
little girl of nine years old then expressed her-
self exceedingly dissatisfied with the last chapter,
which she had re-written, in large text, on a plan
of het own, to render it more cheerful; and they
all exacted a promise, that the narrative should
be one day brought to a happy conclusion. Years
have since fled away, bringing sorrow upon sor-
row, which rendered the author unable to fulfil
the expectations of her gay young friends, but she
has at length resolved, if possible, to do so. As
most of those who were children when Holiday
House was published, are now grown up, it is pro-
posed that the characters in this volume shall all
soon reappear in their maturer years, and act their
parts with a degree of felicity, to satisfy the be-
nevolent sympathy of her young friends, in a novel
to be published some months hence, entitled
SIR EDWARD GRAHAM.
Of all the paper I have blotted, I have written nothing
without the intention of some good. Whether I have sac-
ceeded or not, is for others to judge."
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
THE minds of young people are now manufactured
like webs of linen, all alike, and nothing left to
nature. From the hour when children can speak,
till they come to years of discretion or of indis-
cretion, they are carefully prompted what to say,
and what to think, and how to look, and how to
feel; while in most school-rooms Nature has been
turned out of doors with obloquy, and Art has en-
tirely supplanted her.
When a quarrel takes place, both parties are
generally in some degree to blame; therefore if
Art and Nature could yet be made to go hand in
hand towards the formation of character and prin-
ciples, a graceful and beautiful superstructure
might be reared, on the solid foundation of Chris-
tian faith and sound morality; so that while many
natural weeds would be eradicated, and many wild
flowers pruned and carefully trained, some lovely
blossoms that spring spontaneously in the uncul-
tivated soil, might still be cherished into strength
and beauty, far excelling what can be planted or
reared by art.
Every infant is probably born with a character
as peculiar to himself as the features in his coun-
tenance, if his faults and good qualities were per-
mitted to expand according to their original ten-
dency; but education, which formerly did too little
in teaching the young idea how to shoot," seems
now in danger of overshootingthe mark altogether,
by not allowing the young ideas to exist at all. In
this age of wonderful mechanical inventions, the
very mind of youth seems in danger of becoming
a machine; and while every effort is used to stuff
the memory, like a cricket-ball, with well-known
facts and ready-made opinions, no room is left for
the vigour of natural feeling, the glow of natural
genius, and the ardour of natural enthusiasm. It
was a remark of Sir Walter Scott's many years
ago, to the author herself, that in the rising gene-
ration there would be no poets, wits, or orators,
because all play of the imagination is now care.
fully discouraged, and books written for young
persons are generally a mere dry record of facts,
unenlivened by any appeal to the heart, or any ex-
citement to the fancy. The catalogue of a child's
library would contain Conversations on Natural
Philosophy,-on Chemistry,-on Botany,-on Arts
and Sciences,-Chronological Records of History,
and travels as dry as a road-book, but nothing on
the habits or ways of thinking, natural and suit-
able to the taste of children; therefore, while such
works are delightful to the parents and teachers
who select them, the younger community are fed
with strong meat instead of milk, and the reading
which might be a relaxation from study becomes
a study in itself.
In these pages the author has endeavoured to
paint that species of noisy, frolicsome, mischie-
vous children, now almost extinct, wishing to pre-
serve a sort of fabulous remembrance of days long
past, when young people were like wild horses on
the prairies, rather than like well-broken hacks
on the road; and when amidst many faults and
eccentricities, there was still some individuality
of character and feeling allowed to remain. In
short, as Lord Byron described the last man,"
the object of this volume is to describe the last
boy." It may be useful, she thinks, to shew, that
amidst much requiring to be judiciously curbed
and corrected, there may be the germs of high and
generous feeling, and of steady, right principle,
which should be the chief objects of culture and
encouragement. Plodding industry is in the pre-
sent day at a very high premium in education;
but it requires the leaven of mental energy and
genius to make it work well; while it has been re-
marked by one whose experience in education is
deep and practical, that "those boys whose names
appear most frequently in the black book of trans-
gression, would sometimes deserve to be also most
commonly recorded, if a book were kept for warm
affections and generous actions."
The most formidable person to meet in society
at present, is the mother of a promising boy, about
nine or ten years old; because there is no possible
escape from a volume of anecdotes, and a com-
plete system of education on the newest princi-
ples. The young gentleman has probably asked
leave to bring his books to the breakfast-room,
-can scarcely be torn away from his studies
at the dinner-hour,-discards all toys,-abhors a
holiday,-propounds questions of marvellous depth
in politics or mineralogy,- and seems, in short,
more fitted to enjoy the learned meeting at Oxford
than the exhilarating exercise of the cricket-ground;
but, if the axiom be true, that "a little learning
is a dangerous thing," it has also been proved by
frequent, and sometimes by very melancholy ex-
perience, that, for minds not yet expanded to ma-
turity, a great deal of learning is more dangerous
still, and that in those school-rooms where there
has been a society for the suppression of amuse-
ment, the mental energies have suffered as well as
A prejudice has naturally arisen against giving
works of fiction to children, because their chief
interest too often rests on the detection and pun-
ishment of such mean vices as lying and stealing,
which are so frequently and elaborately described
that the way to commit those crimes is made ob-
vious; while a clever boy thinks he could easily
avoid the oversights by which another has been dis-
covered, and that if he does not yield to similar
temptations, he is a model of virtue and good
In writing for any class of readers, and espe-
cially in occupying the leisure moments of such pe-
culiarly fortunate young persons as have leisure
moments at all, the author feels consciousof a deep
responsibility, for it is at their early age that the
seed can best be sown which shall bear fruit unto
eternal life; therefore it is hoped this volume may
be found to inculcate a pleasing and permanent
consciousness, that religion is the best resource
in happier hours, and the only refuge in hours of
Those who wish to be remembered for ever in
the world,-and it is a very common object of am-
bition,-will find no monument more permanent,
than the affectionate remembrance of any children
they have treated with kindness; for we may often
observe, in the reminiscences of old age, a tender
recollection surviving all others, of friends in
early days who enlivened the hours of childhood
by presents of playthings and comfits. But above
all, we never forget those who good-humouredly
complied with the constantly-recurring petition of
all young people in every generation, and in every
house,-" Will you tell me a story?"
In answer to such a request, often and impor-
tunately repeated, the author has from year to year
delighted in seeing herself surrounded by a circle
of joyous eager faces, listening with awe to the
terrors of Mrs Crabtree, or smiling at the frolics
of Harry and Laura. The stories, originally, were
so short, that some friends, aware of their popu-
larity, and conscious of their harmless tendency,
took the trouble of copying them in manuscript for
their own young friends; but the tales have since
grown and expanded during frequent verbal repe-
titions, till, with various fanciful additions and new
characters, they have enlarged into their present
form, or rather so far beyond it, that several chap-
ters are omitted, to keep the volume within mode-
Paley remarks, that "any amusement which is
innocent, is better than none; as the writing of a
book, the building of a house, the laying out of a
garden, the digging of a fish-pond, even the rais-
ing of a cucumber," and it is hoped, that, while
the author herself has found much interesting oc-
cupation in recording those often repeated stories,
the time of herself and her young readers may be
employed with some degree of profit, or she will
certainly regret that it was not better occupied in
the rearing of cucumbers.
It may add something to the interest, and yet
more to the usefulness of those scenes and circum-
stances relative to the return from abroad and pre-
mature death of Frank Graham, to mention, that
they are not fictitious; and the author is mourn-
fully touched by the consciousness that some tears
of juvenile sympathy have fallen from eyes that
never saw him, for the early fate of a brother
deeply loved and deeply lamented. With every en-
dearing and admirable quality of head and heart,
few ever held out a brighter promise of excellence,
than he who, being restored as is here described for
a few weeks to his family, dying, resigned himself,
without a murmur, to the will of God, and has long
slumbered in a premature grave, his name being
thus commemorated on a tombstone in the church-
yard of Hackney:
LIEUTENANT JAMES SINCLAIR,
WHO WAS ARRESTED BY THE HAND OF DEATH
ON HIS WAY HOME,
AFTER AN ABSENCE OF SOME YEARS, DURING WHICH HE LOST HIS
HEALTH ON SERVICE AGAINST THE BURMESE,
20TH JUNE 1826.
SIt is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good."
"For I know that my Reedemer liveth."
A school-boy, a dog, and a walnut tree,
The more you strike 'em, the better they be.
LAURA and Harry Graham could scarcely feel sure
that they ever had a mama, because she died while
they were yet very young indeed; but Frank,
who was some years older, recollected perfectly
well what pretty playthings she used to give him,
and missed his kind, good mama so extremely,
that he one day asked if he might go to a shop
and buy a new mama ?" Frank often afterwards
thought of the time also, when he kneeled beside
her bed to say his prayers, or when he sat upon
her knee to hear funny stories about good boys
and bad boys-all very interesting, and all told on
purpose to shew how much happier obedient chil-
dren are, than those who waste their time in idle-
ness and folly. Boys and girls all think they know
the road to happiness without any mistake, and
choose that which looks gayest and pleasantest
at first, though older people, who have travelled
that road already, can tell them that a very diffi-
cult path is the only one which ends agreeably;
and those who begin to walk in it when they are
young will really find that Wisdom's ways are
ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
It was truly remarked by Solomon, that even a
child is known by his doings, whether his work
be pure, and whether it be right." Therefore,
though Frank was yet but a little boy, his friends,
who observed how carefully he attended to his
mama's instructions, how frequently he studied
his Bible, and how diligently he learned his les-
sons, all prophesied that this merry, lively child,
with laughing eyes and dimpled cheeks, would yet
grow up to be a good and useful man; especially
when it became evident that, by the blessing of
God, he had been early turned away from the broad
road that leadeth to destruction, in which every
living person would naturally walk, and led into
the narrow path that leadeth to eternal life.
When his mama, Lady Graham, after a long
and painful illness, was at last taken away to the
better world, for which she had been many years
preparing her only sorrow and anxiety seemed to
be that she left behind her three such very dear
children, who were now to be entirely under the
care of their papa, Sir Edward Graham; and it
was with many prayers and tears that she tried to
make her mind more easy about their future edu-
cation, and future happiness.
Sir Edward felt such extreme grief on the death
of Lady Graham, that instead of being able to re-
main at home with his young family, and to inter-
est his mind as he would wish to have done, by
attending to them, he was ordered by Dr Bell to
set off immediately for Paris, Rome, and Naples,
where it was hoped he might leave his distresses
behind him while he travelled, or, at all events, for-
Luckily the children had a very good, kind
uncle, Major David Graham, and their grandma-
ma, Lady Harriet Graham, who were both exceed-
ingly happy to take charge of them, observing
that no house could be cheerful without a few lit-
tle people being there, and that now they would
have constant amusement in trying tomake Frank,
Harry, and Laura, as happy as possible, and even
"That is the thing I am almost afraid of !"
said Sir Edward, smiling. Uncles and grand-
mamas are only too kind, and my small family will
be quite spoiled with indulgence."
Not if you leave that old vixen, Mrs Crab-
tree, as governor of the nursery," answered Ma-
jor Graham, laughing. She ought to have been
the drummer of a regiment, she is so fond of beat-
ing I believe there never was such a tyrant since
the time when nurserymaids were invented. Poor
Harry would pass his life in a dark closet, like
Baron Trenck, if Mrs Crabtree had her own way!"
She means it all well. I am certain that Mrs
Crabtree is devotedly fond of my children, and
would go through fire and water to serve them;
but she is a little severe, perhaps. Her idea is,
that if you never forgive a first fault, you will
never hear of a second, which is probably true
enough. At all events, her harshness will be the
best remedy for your extreme indulgence; there-
fore let me beg that you and my mother will sel-
dom interfere with her 'method,' especially in re-
spect to Harry and Laura. As for Frank, if all
boys were like him, we might make a bonfire of
birch-rods and canes. He is too old for nursery
discipline now, and must be flogged at school, if
deserving of it at all, till he goes to sea next year,
with my friend Gordon, who has promised to rate
him as a volunteer of the first class, on board the
In spite of Mrs Crabtree's admirable system"
with children, Harry and Laura became, from this
time, two of the most heedless, frolicsome beings
in the world, and had to be whipped almost every
morning; for in those days it had not been dis-
covered that whipping is all a mistake, and that
children can be made good without it; though
some old-fashioned people still say-and such, too,
who take the God of truth for their guide-the
old plan succeeded best, and that those who "spare
the rod will spoil the child." When Lady Harriet
and Major Graham spoke kindly to Harry and
Laura about any thing wrong that had been done,
they both felt more sad and sorry, than after the
severest punishments of Mrs Crabtree, who fre-
quently observed, that if those children were
shut up in a dark room alone, with nothing to
do, they would still find some way of being mis-
chievous, and of deserving to be punished."
"Harry !" said Major Graham, one day, you
remind me of a monkey which belonged to the
colonel of our regiment. He was famous for con-
triving to play all sorts of pranks when no one
supposed them to be possible, and I recollect
once having a valuable French clock, which the
malicious creature seemed particularly determined
to break. Many a time I caught him in the fact,
and saved my beautiful clock, but one day being
suddenly summoned out of the room, I hastily
fastened his chain to a table, so that he could
not possibly, even at the full extent of his paw,
so much as touch the glass case. I observed him
impatiently watching my departure, and felt a
misgiving that he expected to get the better of
me; so, after shutting the door, I took a peep
through the key-hole, and what do you think Jack
had done, Harry? for, next to Mr Monkey him-
self, you are certainly the cleverest contriver of
mischief I know."
What did he do ?" asked Harry, eagerly;
" did he throw a stone at the clock ?"
No! but his leg was several inches longer
than his arm, so having turned his tail towards
his object, he stretched out his hind-paw, and be-
fore I could rush back, my splendid alabaster clock
had been upset and broken to shivers."
Laura soon became quite as mischievous as
Harry, which is very surprising, as she was a
whole year older, and had been twice as often scold-
ed by Mrs Crabtree. Neither of these children
intended any harm, for they were only heedless,
lively romps, who would not for twenty worlds
have told a lie, or done a shabby thing, or taken
what did not belong to them. They were not
greedy either, and would not on any account have
resembled Peter Grey, who was quite an old boy,
at the same school with Frank, and who spent all
his own pocket-money, and borrowed a great deal
of other people's, to squanderat the pastry-cook's,
saying, he wished it were possible to eat three
dinners, and two breakfasts, and five suppers every
Harry was not a cruel boy either; he never
lashed his pony, beat his dog, pinched his sister,
or killed any butterflies, though he often chased
them for fun; and one day he even defended a
wasp at the risk of being stung, when Mrs Crab-
tree intended to kill it.
Nasty, useless vermin !" said she, angrily.
"What business have they in the world! com-
ing into other people's houses, with nothing to
do They sting and torment every body! Bees
are very different, for they are useful, making
And wasps make jelly !" said Harry, reso-
lutely, while he opened the window, and shook
the happy wasp out of his pocket-handkerchief.
Mrs Crabtree allowed no pet of any descrip-
tion in her territories, and ordered the children
to be happy without any such nonsense. When
Laura's canary-bird escaped one unlucky day out
of its cage, Mrs Crabtree was strongly suspected
by Major Graham of having secretly opened the
door, as she had long declared war upon bull-
finches, white mice, parrots, kittens, dogs, ban-
tams, and gold fish, observing that animals only
made a noise and soiled the house, therefore every
beast should remain in its own home, birds in
the air, fish in the sea, and beasts in the desert."
She seemed always watching, in hopes Harry and
Laura might do something that they ought to be
punished for: and Mrs Crabtree certainly had more
ears than other people, or slept with one eye open,
as, whatever might be done, night or day, she
overheard the lowest whisper of mischief, and ap-
peared able to see what was going on in the
When Harry was a very little boy, he some-
times put himself in the corner, after doing any-
thing wrong, apparently quite sensible that he
deserved to be punished, and once after being
terribly scolded by Mrs Crabtree, he drew in his
stool beside her chair, with a funny, penitent face,
twirling his thumbs over and over each other, and
saying, Now, Mrs Crabtree! look what a good
boy I am going to be !"
You a good boy !" replied she, contemptu-
ously: No no! the world will be turned into
a cream-cheese first !"
Lady Harriet gave Harry and Laura a closet
of their own, in which she allowed them to keep
their toys, and nobody could help laughing to
see that, amidst the whole collection, there was
seldom one unbroken. Frank wrote out a list
CHIT ,CHAT. 9
once of what he found in this crowded little store-
room, and amused himself often with reading it
over afterwards. There were three dolls with-
out faces, a horse with no legs, a drum with a
hole in the top, a cart without wheels, a churn with
no bottom, a kite without a tail, a skipping-rope
with no handles, and a cup and ball that had lost
the string. Lady Harriet called this closet the
hospital for decayed toys, and she often employed
herself as their doctor, mending legs and arms for
soldiers, horses, and dolls, though her skill sel-
dom succeeded long; because playthings must
have been made of cast-iron to last a week with
Harry. One cold winter morning, when Laura en- v
tered the nursery, she found a large fire blazing,
and all her wax dolls sitting in a row staring
at the flames. Harry intended no mischief on
this occasion, but great was his vexation when
Laura burst into tears, and shewed him that their
faces were running in a hot stream down upon
their beautiful silk frocks, which were completely
ruined, and not a doll had its nose remaining.
Another time, Harry pricked a hole in his own
beautiful large gas-ball, wishing to see how the
gas could possibly escape, after which, in a mo-
ment, it shrivelled up into a useless empty blad.
der; and when his kite was flying up to the clouds,
Harry often wished that he could be tied to the
tail himself, so as to fly also through the air like
a bird, and see every thing.
Mrs Crabtree always wore a prodigious bunch
of jingling keys in her pocket, that rung when-
ever she moved, as if she carried a dinner-bell in
her pocket, and Frank said it was like a rattle-
snake, giving warning of her approach, which was
of great use, as everybody had time to put on a
look of good behaviour before she arrived. Even
Betty, the under nurserymaid, felt in terror of
Mrs Crabtree's entrance, and was obliged to work
harder than any six housemaids united. Frank
told her one day that he thought brooms might
V soon be invented, which would go by steam and
brush carpets of themselves; but, in the mean
time, not a grain of dust could lurk in any corner
of the nursery without being dislodged. Betty
would have required ten hands, and twenty pair
of feet, to do all the work that was expected ; but
the grate looked like jet, the windows would not
have soiled a cambric handkerchief, and the car-
pet was switched with so many tea-leaves, that
Frank thought Mirs Crabtree often took several
additional cups of tea in order to leave a plenti-
ful supply of leaves for sweeping the floor next
If Laura and Harry left any breakfast, Mrs
Crabtree kept it carefully till dinner time, when
they were obliged to finish the whole before tast-
ing meat; and if they refused it at dinner, the
remains were kept for supper. Mrs Crabtree
always informed them that she did it for their
good," though Harry never could see any good
that it did to either of them; and when she men-
tioned how many poor children would be glad to
eat what they despised, he often wished the hun-
gry beggars had some of his own hot dinner, which
he would gladly have spared to them; for Harry
was really so generous, that he would have lived
upon air, if he might be of use to anybody. Time
passed on, and Lady Harriet engaged a master
for some hours a-day to teach the children lessons,
while even Mrs Crabtree found no other fault to
Harry and Laura, except that in respect to good
behaviour their memories were like a sieve, which
let out everything they were desired to keep in
mind. They seemed always to hope, somehow or
other, that when Mrs Crabtree once turned her
back, she would never shew her face again; so
their promises of better conduct were all wind
without rain," very loud, and plenty of them, but
no good effect to be seen afterwards.
Among her many other torments, Mrs Crabtree
rolled up Laura's hair every night on all sides of
her head, in large stiff curl-papers, till they were as
round and hard as walnuts, after which she tied
on a night-cap, as tightly as possible above all,
saying this would curl the hair still better. Laura
could not lay any part of her head on the pillow,
without suffering so much pain, that, night after
night, she sat up in bed, after Mrs Crabtree had
bustled out of the room, and quietly took the cruel
papers out, though she was punished so severely
for doing so, that she obeyed orders at last, and
lay wide awake half the night with torture; and
it was but small comfort to Laura afterwards, that
Lady Harriet's visitors frequently admired the fo-
rest of long, glossy ringlets that adorned her head,
and complimented Mrs Crabtree on the trouble it
must cost her to keep that charming hair in order.
Often did Laura wish that it were ornamenting
any wig-block, rather than her own head ; and one
day Lady Harriet laughed heartily, when some
strangers admired her little granddaughter's ring-
lets, and Laura asked, very anxiously, if they would
like to cut off a few of the longest, and keep them
for her sake.
Your hair does curl like a cork-screw," said
Frank, laughing. If I want to draw a cork out of
a beer bottle any day, I shall borrow one of those
ringlets, Laura !"
You may laugh, Frank; for it is fun to you,
and death to me," answered poor Laura, gravely
shaking her curls at him. I wish we were all
bald, hke uncle David! During the night I can-
not lie still, on account of those tiresome curls,
and all day I dare not stir for fear of spoiling them;
so they are never out of my head."
"Nor off your head How pleasant it must
be to have Mrs Crabtree combing and scolding,
and scolding and combing, for hours every day!
Poor Laura! we must get Dr Bell to say that
they shall be taken off on pain of death, and then,
perhaps, grandmama would order some Irish reap-
ers to cut them down with a sickle."
Frank! what a lucky boy you are, to be at
school, and not in the nursery I wish next year
would come immediately, for then I shall have a
governess, after which goodbye to Mrs Crabtree,
and the wearisome curl-papers."
I don't like school !" said Harry. "It is per-
fect nonsense to plague me with lessons now. All
big people can read and write, so, of course I
shall somehow be able to do like others. There is
no hurry about it !"
Never was there a more amiable, pious, excel-
lent boy than Frank, who read his Bible so atten-
tively, and said his prayers so regularly every
morning and evening, that he soon learned both
to know his duty and to do it. Though he laughed
heartily at the scrapes which Harry and Laura
so constantly fell into, he often also helped them
out of their difficulties; being very different from
most elderly boys, who find an odd kind of plea-
sure in teasing younger children-pulling their
hair-pinching their arms-twitching away their
dinners-and twenty more plans for tormenting,
which Frank never attempted to enjoy, but he
often gave Harry and Laura a great deal of kind,
sober, good advice, which they listened to very
attentively while they were in any new distress,
but generally forgot again as soon as their spirits
rose. Frank came home only upon Saturdays and
Sunday, because he attended during most of the
week at Mr Hannay's academy, where he gradual-
ly became so clever that the masters all praised his
extraordinary attention, and covered him with me-
dals, while Major Graham often filled his pockets
with a reward of money, after which he ran to-
wards the nearest shop to spend his little for-
tune in buying a present for somebody. Frank
scarcely ever wanted any thing for himself, but
he always wished to contrive some kind, generous
plan for other people; and Major Graham used to
say, if that boy had only sixpence in the world,
he would lay it all out on penny tarts to distri-
iute among half-a-dozen of his friends." He even
saved his pocket-money once, during three whole
months, to purchase a gown for Mrs Crabtree, who
looked almost good-humoured during the space
of five minutes, when Frank presented it to her,
saying, in his joyous, merry voice, "Mrs Crabtree!
I wish you health to wear it, strength to tear it,
and money to buy another !"
Certainly there never was such a gown before !
It had been chosen by Frank and Harry together,
who thought nothing could be more perfect. The
colour was so bright an apple-green, that it would
have put anybody's teeth on edge to look at it,
and the whole was dotted over with large, round
spots of every colour, as if a box of wafers had
been showered upon the surface. Laura wished
Mrs Crabtree might receive a present every day,
as it put her in such good humour, and nearly
three weeks passed without a single scold being
heard in the nursery; so Frank observed that he
thought Mrs Crabtree would soon be quite out of
Laura !" said Major Graham, looking very sly
one morning, have you heard all the new rules
that Mrs Crabtree has made?"
No!" replied she, in great alarm; what are
"In the first place, you are positively not to
tear and destroy above three frocks a-day; se-
condly, you and Harry must never get into a pas-
sion, unless you are angry; thirdly, when either
of you take medicine, you are not to make wry
faces, except when the taste is bad; fourthly, you
must never speak ill of Mrs Crabtree herself, till
she is out of the room; fifthly, you are not to jump
out of the windows, as long as you can get out
at the door"-
Yes !" interrupted Laura, laughing, and
sixthly, when uncle David is joking, we are not
to be frightened by anything he says !"
Seventhly, when next you spill grandmama's
bottle of ink, Harry must drink up every drop."
Very well! he may swallow a sheet of blot-
ting paper afterwards, to put away the taste."
I wish every body who writes a book, was
obliged to swallow it," said Harry. It is such
a waste of time reading, when we might be amu-
sing ourselves. Frank sat mooning over a book
for two hours yesterday when we wanted him to
play. I am sure some day his head will burst
That can never happen to you, Master Harry,"
answered Major Graham; you have a head, and
so has a pin; but there is not much furniture in
either of them."
THEIR GRAND FEAST.
She gave them some tea without any bread,
She whipp'd them all soundly, and sent them to bed.
LADY HARRIET GRAHAM was an extremely thin,
delicate, old lady, with a very pale face and a sweet,
gentle voice, which the children delighted to hear,
for it always spoke kindly to them, and sounded
like music, after the loud, rough tones of Mrs
Crabtree. She wore her own grey hair, which had
become almost as white as the widow's cap which
covered her head. The rest of her dress was ge-
nerally black velvet, and she usually sat in a com-
fortable arm-chair by the fireside, watching her
grandchildren at play, with a large work-bag by
her side, and a prodigious Bible open on the table
before her. Lady Harriet often said that it made
her young again to see the joyous gambols of
Harry and Laura; and when unable any longer to
THE GRAND FEAST.
bear their noise, she sometimes kept them quiet,
by telling them the most delightful stories about
what had happened to herself when she was young.
Once upon a time, however, Lady Harriet sud-
denly became so very ill, that Dr Bell said she
must spend a few days in the country, for change
of air, and accordingly she determined on passing
a quiet week at Holiday House with her relations,
Lord and Lady Rockville. Meanwhile, Harry and
Laura were to be left under the sole care of Mrs
Crabtree, so it might have been expected that they
would both feel more frightened for her, now that
she was reigning monarch of the house, than ever.
Harry would obey those he loved, if they only held
up a little finger; but all the terrors of Mrs Crab-
tree, and her cat-o'-nine-tails, were generally for-
gotten soon after she left the room; therefore he
thought little at first about the many threats she
held out, if he behaved ill, but he listened most se-
riously when his dear, sick grandmama told him, in
a faint, weak voice, on the day of her departure
from home, how very well he ought to behave in
her absence, as no one remamnea but the maids to
keep him in order, and that she hoped Mrs Crab-
tree would write her a letter full of good news
about his excellent conduct.
Harry felt as if he would gladly sit still with-
out stirring till his grandmama came back, if that
THE GRAND FEAST.
could only please her; and there never was any
one more determined to be a good boy than he, at
the moment when Lady Harriet's carriage came
round to the door. Laura, Frank, and Harry,
helped to carry all the pillows, boxes, books, and
baskets, which were necessary for the journey, of
which there seemed to be about fifty ; then they ar-
ranged the cushions as comfortably as possible,
and watched very sorrowfully when their grandma-
ma, after kindly embracing them both, was carefully
supported by Major Graham and her own maid
Harrison, into the chariot. Uncle David gave
each of the children a pretty picture-book before
taking leave, and said, as he was stepping into the
carriage, Now, children! I have only one piece
of serious, important advice to give you all, so at-
tend to me Never crack nuts with your teeth."
When the carriage had driven off, Mrs Crabtree
became so busy scolding Betty, and storming at
Jack the foot-boy, for not cleaning her shoes well
enough, that she left Harry and Laura standing in
the passage, not knowing exactly what they ought
to do first, and Frank, seeing them looking rather
melancholy and bewildered at the loss of their
grandmama, stopped a moment as he passed on
the way to school, and said in a very kind, affec-
Now, Harry and Laura, listen, both of you-
THE GRAND FEAST.
here is a grand opportunity to shew everybody that
we can be trusted to ourselves, without getting
into any scrapes, so that if grandmama is ever ill
again and obliged to go away, she need not feel so
sad and anxious as she did to-day. I mean to be-
come nine times more attentive to my lessons than
usual this morning, to shew how trustworthy we
are, and if you are wise, pray march straight up to
the nursery yourselves. I have arranged a gown
and cap of Mrs Crabtree's on the large arm-chair,
to look as like herself as possible, that you may be
reminded how soon she will come back, and you
must not behave like the mice when the cat is out.
Goodbye! Say the alphabet backwards, and count
your fingers for half-an-hour; but when Mrs Crab-
tree appears again, pray do not jump out of the
window for joy."
Harry and Laura were proceeding directly to-
wards the nursery, as Frank had recommended,
when unluckily they observed in passing the draw-
ing-room door, that it was wide open; so Harry
peeped in, and they began idly wandering round
the tables and cabinets. Not ten minutes elapsed
before they both commenced racing about as if
they were mad, perfectly screaming with joy, and
laughing so loudly at their own funny tricks, that
an old gentleman who lived next door very nearly
sent in a message to ask what the joke was.
THE GRAND FEAST.
Presently Harry and Laura ran up and down
stairs till the housemaid was quite fatigued with
running after them. They jumped upon the fine
damask sofas in the drawing-room, stirred the fire
till it was in a blaze, and rushed out on the balcony,
upsetting one or two geraniums and a myrtle.
They spilt Lady Harriet's perfumes over their
handkerchiefs,-they looked into all the beautiful
books of pictures,-they tumbled many of the
pretty Dresden china figures on the floor,-they
wound up the little French clock till it was broken,
-they made the musical work-box play its tunes,
and set the Chinese mandarins a-nodding, till they
very nearly nodded their heads off. In short, so
much mischief has seldom been done in so short a
time, till at last Harry, perfectly worn out with
laughing and running, threw himself into a large
arm-chair, and Laura, with her ringlets tumbling
in frightful confusion over her face, and the beads
of her coral necklace rolling on the floor, tossed
herself into a sofa beside him.
Oh what fun !" cried Harry, in an ecstacy of
delight. "I wish Frank had been here, and crowds
of little boys and girls, to play with us all day!
It would be a good joke, Laura, to write and ask
all our little cousins and companions to drink tea
here to-morrow evening! Their mamas could
never guess we had not leave from grandmama
THE GRAND FEAST.
to invite everybody, so I daresay we might gather
quite a large party oh how enchanting !"
Laura laughed heartily when she heard this pro-
posal of Harry's, and without hesitating a moment
about it, she joyously placed herself before Lady
Harriet's writing-table, and scribbled a multitude
of little notes, in large text, to more than twenty
young friends, all of whom had at other times been
asked by Lady Harriet to spend the evening with
Laura felt very much puzzled to know what was
usually said in a card of invitation ; but after many
consultations, she and Harry thought at last that
it was very nicely expressed, for they wrote these
words upon a large sheet of paper to each of their
Master Harry Graham and Miss Laura wish
you to have the honour of drinking tea with us to-
morrow at six o'clock.
(Signed) HARRY and LAURA."
Laura afterwards singed a hole in her muslin
frock, while lighting one of the Vesta matches to
seal these numerous notes; and Harry dropped
some burning sealing-wax on his hand, in the hurry
of assisting her; but he thought that little acci-
dent no matter, and ran away to see if the cards
could be sent off immediately.
THE GRAND FEAST.
Now, there lived in the house a very old foot-
man, called Andrew, who remembered Harry and
Laura since they were quite little babies ; and he
often looked exceedingly sad and sorry when they
suffered punishment from Mrs Crabtree. He was
ready to do any thing in the world when it pleased
the children, and would have carried a message to
the moon, if they had only shewn him the way.
Many odd jobs and private messages he had al-
ready been employed in by Harry, who now called
Andrew up stairs, entreating him to carry out all
those absurd notes as fast as possible, and to de-
liver them immediately, as they were of the great-
est consequence. Upon hearing this, old Andrew
lost not a moment, but threw on his hat, and in-
stantly started off, looking like the twopenny post-
man, he carried such a prodigious parcel of invita-
tions, while Harry and Laura stood at the drawing-
room window, almost screaming with joy when
they saw him set out, and when they observed that,
to oblige them, he actually ran along the street at
a sort of trot, which was as fast as he could possi-
bly go. Presently, however, he certainly did stop
for a single minute, and Laura saw that it was in
order to take a peep into one of the notes, that he
might ascertain what they were all about; but as
he never carried any letters without doing so, she
thought that quite natural, and was only very glad
THE GRAND FEAST.
when he had finished, and rapidly pursued his way
Next morning, Mrs Crabtree and Betty became
very much surprised to observe what a number of
smart livery-servants knocked at the street door,
and gave in cards, but their astonishment became
still greater, when old Andrew brought up a whole
parcel of them to Harry and Laura, who imme-
diately broke the seals, and read the contents in a
What are you about there, Master Graham?"
cried Mrs Crabtree, angrily. "How dare anybody
venture to touch your grandmama's letters ?"
They are not for grandmama!-they are all for
us! every one of them!" answered Harry, dancing
about the room with joy, and waving the notes
over his head. "Look at this direction! For
Master and Miss Graham! put on your spectacles,
and read it yourself, Mrs Crabtree! What de-
lightful fun! the house will be as full as an egg?"
Mrs Crabtree seemed completely puzzled what
to think of all this, and looked so much as if she
did not know exactly what to be angry at, and so
ready to be in a passion if possible, that Harry
burst out a-laughing, while he said, Only think,
Mrs Crabtree! here is everybody coming to tea
with us -all my cousins, besides Peter Grey,
John Stewart, Charles Forrester, Anna Perceval,
THE GRAND FEAST.
Diana Wentworth, John Fordyce, Edmund Ash-
ford, Frank Abercromby, Ned Russell, and Tom
The boy is distracted!" exclaimed Betty, sta-
ring with astonishment. What does all this mean,
Master Harry ?"
And who gave you leave to invite company in-
to your grandmama's house ?" cried Mrs Crabtree,
snatching up all the notes, and angrily thrusting
them into the fire. I never heard of such doings
in all my life before, Master Harry but as sure
as eggs are eggs, you shall repent of this, for not
one morsel of cake or anything else shall you have
to give any of the party; no! not so much as a
crust of bread, or a thimbleful of tea !"
Harry and Laura had never thought of such a
catastrophe as this before; they always saw a great
table covered with everything that could be named
for tea, whenever their little friends came to visit
them; and whether it rose out of the floor, or was
brought by Aladdin's lamp, they never considered
it possible that the table would not be provided as
usual on such occasions; so this terrible speech
of Mrs Crabtree's frightened them out of their
wits. What was to be done! They both knew by
experience that she always did what she threat-
ened, or something a great deal worse, so they be-
gan by bursting into tears, and begging Mrs Crab-
THE GRAND FEAST.
tree for this once to excuse them, and to give some
cakes and tea to their little visitors; but they
might as well have spoken to one of the Chinese
mandarins, for she only shook her head with a
positive look, declaring over and over and over
again that nothing should appear upon the table
except what was always brought up for their own
supper-two biscuits and two cups of milk.
"Therefore say no more about it !" added she,
sternly. "I am your best friend, Master Harry,
trying to teach you and Miss Laura your duty; so
save your breath to cool your porridge."
Poor Harry and Laura looked perfectly ill with
fright and vexation when they thought of what was
to happen next, while Mrs Crabtree sat down to her
knitting, grumbling to herself, and dropping her
stitches every minute, with rage and irritation. Old
Andrew felt exceedingly sorry after he heard what
distress and difficulty Harry was in; and when
the hour for the party approached, he very good-
naturedly spread out a large table in the dining-
room, where he put down as many cups, saucers,
plates, and spoons, as Laura chose to direct; but
in spite of all his trouble, though it looked very
grand, there was nothing whatever to eat or drink
except the two dry biscuits, and the two miserable
cups of milk, which seemed to become smaller
every time that Harry looked at them.
THE GRAND FEAST.
Presently the clock struck six, and Harry listen-
ed to the hour very much as a prisoner would do in
the condemned cell in Newgate, feeling that the
dreaded time was at last arrived. Soon afterwards
several handsome carriages drove up to the door,
filled with little Masters and Misses, who hurried
joyfully into the house, talking and laughing all
the way up stairs, while poor Harry and Laura al-
most wished the floor would open and swallow them
up; so they shrunk into a distant corner of the
room, quite ashamed to shew their faces.
The young ladies were all dressed in their best
frocks, with pink sashes, and pink shoes; while
the little boys appeared in their holiday clothes,
with their hair newly brushed, and their faces
washed. The whole party had dined at two o'clock,
so they were as hungry as hawks, looking eagerly
round, whenever they entered, to see what was on
the tea-table, and evidently surprised that nothing
had yet been put down. Laura and Harry soon
afterwards heard their visitors whispering to each
other about Norwich buns, rice-cakes, spunge bis-
cuits, and macaroons; while Peter Grey was loud
in praise of a party at George Lorraine's the night
before, where an immense plum-cake had been su-
gared over like a snow-storm, and covered with
crowds of beautiful amusing mottoes; not to men-
tion a quantity of noisy crackers, that exploded
THE GRAND FEAST.
like pistols; besides which, a glass of hot jelly had
been handed to each little guest before he was
Every time the door opened, all eyes were
anxiously turned round, expecting a grand feast to
be brought in; but quite the contrary-it was only
Andrew shewing up more hungry visitors; while
Harry felt so unspeakably wretched, that, if some
kind fairy could only have turned him into a Nor-
wich bun at the moment, he would gladly have con-
sented to be cut in pieces, that his ravenous guests
might be satisfied.
Charles Forrester was a particularly good-na-
tured boy, so Harry at last took courage and beck-
oned him into a remote corner of the room, where
he confessed, in whispers, the real state of affairs
about tea, and how sadly distressed he and Laura
felt, because they had nothing whatever to give
among so many visitors, seeing that Mrs Crab-
tree kept her determination of affording them no
What is to be done ?" said Charles, very
anxiously, as he felt extremely sorry for his little
friends. If mama had been at home, she world
gladly have sent whatever you liked for tea, but
unluckily she is dining out I saw a loaf of bread
lying on a table at home this evening, which she
would make you quite welcome to! Shall I run
THE GRAND FEAST.
home, as fast as possible, to fetch it ? That would,
at any rate, be better than nothing !"
Poor Charles Forrester was very lame; there-
fore, while he talked of running, he could hardly
walk; but Lady Forrester's house stood so near
that he soon reached home, when, snatching up the
loaf, he hurried back towards the street with his
prize, quite delighted to see how large and sub-
stantial it looked. Scarcely had he reached the
door, however, before the housekeeper ran hastily
Stop, Master Charles! stop! sure you are not
running away with the loaf for my tea; and the
parrot must have her supper too. What do you
want with that there bread ?"
Never mind, Mrs Comfit !" answered Charles,
hastening on faster than ever, while he grasped the
precious loaf more firmly in his hand, and limped
along at a prodigious rate : Polly is getting too
fat, so she will be the better of fasting for one day."
Mrs Comfit, being enormously fat herself,became
very angry at this remark, so she seemed quite
desperate to recover the loaf, and hurried forward
to overtake Charles; but the old housekeeper was
so heavy and breathless, while the young gentle-
man was so lame, that it seemed an even chance
which won the race. Harry stood at his own
door, impatiently hoping to receive the prize, and
TIE GRAND FEAST.
eagerly stretched out his arms to encourage his
friend, while it was impossible to say which of the
runners might arrive first. Harry had sometimes
heard of a race between two old women tied up in
sacks, and he thought they could scarcely move
with more difficulty; but at the very moment when
Charles had reached the door, he stumbled over a
stone, and fell on the ground. Mrs Comfit then
instantly rushed up, and, seizing the loaf, she car-
ried it off in triumph, leaving the two little friends
ready to cry with vexation, and quite at a loss what
plan to attempt next.
Meantime, a sad riot had arisen in the dining-
room, where the boys called loudly for their tea;
and the young ladies drew their chairs all round
the table, to wait till it was ready. Still nothing
appeared; so everybody wondered more and more
how long they were to wait for all the nice cakes
and sweetmeats which must, of course, be coming;
for the longer they were delayed, the more was ex-
The last at a feast, and the first at a fray, was
generally Peter Grey, who now lost patience, and
seized one of the two biscuits, which he was in the
middle of greedily devouring, when Laura returned
with Harry to the dining-room, and observed what
he had done.
"Peter Grey!" said she, holding up her head,
THE GRAND FEAST.
and trying to look very dignified, "you are an ex-
ceedingly naughty boy, to help yourself! As a
punishment for being so rude, you shall have no-
thing more to eat all this evening."
If I do not help myself, nobody else seems
likely to give me any supper! I appear to be the
only person who is to taste any thing to-night,"
answered Peter, laughing, while the impudent boy
took a cup of milk, and drank it off, saying,
Here's to your very good health, Miss Laura,
and an excellent appetite to everybody!"
Upon hearing this absurd speech, all the other
boys began laughing, and made signs, as if they
were eating their fingers off with hunger. Then
Peter called Lady Harriet's house "Famine Castle,"
and pretended he would swallow the knives, like an
We must learn to live upon air, and here are
some spoons to eat it with," said John Fordyce.
Harry! shall I help you to a mouthful of moon-
Peter! would you like a roasted fly ?" asked
Frank Abercromby, catching one on the window.
" I daresay it is excellent for hungry people,-or
a slice of buttered wall ?"
Or a stewed spider ?" asked Peter. "Shall
we all be cannibals, and eat one another?"
What is the use of all those forks, when there
THE GRAND FEAST.
is nothing to stick upon them ?" asked George
Maxwell, throwing them about on the floor. No
buns !-no fruit !-no cakes !-no nothing !"
What are we to do with those tea-cups, when
there is no tea ?" cried Frank Abercromby, pull-
ing the table-cloth, till the whole affair fell pros-
trate on the floor. After this, these riotous boys
tossed the plates in the air, and caught them, be-
coming, at last, so outrageous, that poor old An-
drew called them a "meal mob!" Never was there
so much broken china seen in a dining-room before!
It all lay scattered on the floor, in countless frag-
ments, looking as if there had been a bull in a
china shop, when suddenly Mrs Crabtree herself
opened the door and walked in, with an aspect of
rage enough to petrify a milestone. Now old
Andrew had long been trying all in his power to
render the boys quiet and contented. He had
made them a speech,-he had chased the ring-lead-
ers all round the room,-and he had thrown his
stick at Peter, who seemed the most riotous,-but
all in vain; they became worse and worse, laughing
into fits, and calling Andrew the police officer
and the bailiff." It was a very different story,
however, when Mrs Crabtree appeared, so flaming
with fury, she might have blown up a powder-
Nobody could help being afraid of her. Even
THE GRAND FEAST.
Peter himself stood stock still, and seemed wither-
ing away to nothing, when she looked at him; and
when she began to scold in her most furious man-
ner, not a boy ventured to look off the ground. A
large pair of tawse then became visible in her hand,
so every heart sunk with fright, and the riotous
visitors began to get behind each other, and to
huddle out of sight as much as possible, whisper-
ing, and pushing, and fighting, in a desperate
scuffle to escape.
What is all this!" cried she, at the full pitch
of her voice; "has bedlam broke loose ? who smash-
ed these cups? I'll break his head for him, let me
tell you that! Master Peter! you should be hissed
out of the world for your misconduct; but I shall
certainly whip you round the room like a whipping-
At this moment, Peter observed that the din-
ing-room window, which was only about six feet
from the ground, had been left wide open; so in-
stantly seizing the opportunity, he threw himself
out with a single bound, and ran laughing away.
All the other boys immediately followed his ex-
ample, and disappeared by the same road; after
which, Mrs Crabtree leaned far out of the window,
and scolded loudly, as long as they remained in
sight, till her face became red, and her voice per-
34 THE GRAND FEAST.
Meantime, the little misses sat soberly down
before the empty table, and talked in whispers to
each other, waiting till their maids came to take
them home, after which they all hurried away as
fast as possible, hardly waiting to say "Goodbye,"
and intending to ask for some supper at home.
During that night, long after Harry and Laura
had been scolded, whipped, and put to bed, they
were each heard in different rooms, sobbing and
crying, as if their very hearts would break, while
Mrs Crabtree grumbled and scolded toherself, say-
ing she must do her duty, and make them good
children, though she were to flay them alive first.
When Lady Harriet returned home some days
afterwards, she heard an account of Harry and
Laura's misconduct from Mrs Crabtree, and the
whole story was such a terrible case against them,
that their poor grandmama became perfectly asto-
nished and shocked, while even uncle David was
preparing to be very angry; but before the cul-
prits appeared, Frank most kindly stepped for-
ward, and begged that they might be pardoned for
this once, adding all in his power to excuse Harry
and Laura, by describing how very penitent they
had become, and how very severely they had al-
ready been punished.
Frank then mentioned all that Harry had told
him about the starving party, which he related
THE GRAND FEAST.
with so much humour and drollery, that Lady
Harriet could not help laughing; so then he saw
that a victory had been gained, and ran to the nur-
sery for the two little prisoners.
Uncle David shook his walking-stick at them,
and made a terrible face, when they entered; but
Iarry jumped upon his knee with joy at seeing
him again, while Laura forgot all her distress, and
rushed up to Lady Harriet, who folded her in her
arms, and kissed her most affectionately.
Not a word was said that day about the tea-
party, but next morning Major Graham asked
Harry, very gravely, if he had read in the news
paper the melancholy accounts about several of his
little companions, who were ill and confined to bed
from having eat too much at a certain tea-party on
Saturday last. Poor Peter Grey has been given
over; and Charles Forrester,it is feared, may not be
able to eat another loaf of bread for a fortnight !"
Oh! uncle David! it makes me ill whenever I
think of that party !" said Harry, colouring per-
fectly scarlet; that was the most miserable even-
ing of my life !"
"I must say it was not quite fair in Mrs Crab-
tree to starve all the strange little boys and girls,
who came as visitors to my house, without know-
ing who had invited them," observed Lady Har-
riet. Probably those unlucky children will never
THE GRAND FEAST.
forget, as long as they live, that scanty supper in
And it turned out exactly as Lady Harriet had
predicted; for though they were all asked to tea,
in proper form, the very next Saturday, when Ma-
jor Graham showered torrents of sugar-plums on
the table, while the children scrambled to pick
them up, and the sideboard almost broke down
afterwards under the weight of buns, cakes, cheese-
cakes, biscuits, fruit, and preserves, which were
heaped upon each other yet, for years after-
wards, Peter Grey, whenever he ate a particularly
enormous dinner, always observed, that he must
make up for having once been starved at Harry
Graham's; and whenever any one of those little
boys or girls again happened to meet Harry or
Laura, they were sure to laugh and say, When
are you going to give us another
" GRAND FEAST? "
TIE TERRIBLE FIRE.
Fire rages with fury wherever it comes,
If only one spark should be dropped;
Whole houses, or cities, sometimes it consumes,
Where its violence cannot be stopped.
ONE night, about eight o'clock, Harry and Laura
were playing in the nursery, building houses with
bricks, and trying who could raise the highest
tower without letting it fall, when suddenly they.
were startled to hear every bell in the house ring-
ing violently, while the servants seemed running
up and down stairs, as if they were distracted.
What can be the matter ?" cried Laura, turning
round and listening, while Harry quietly took this
opportunity to shake the walls of her castle till it
The very house is coming down about your
ears, Laura !" said Harry, enjoying his little bit of
mischief. "I should like to be Andrew, now, for
five minutes, that I might answer those fifty bells,
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
and see what has happened. Uncle David must
be wanting coals, candles, tea, toast, and soda-
water, all at once! What a bustle everybody is
in There! the bells are ringing again, worse than
ever Something wonderful is going on! What
can it be ?"
Presently Betty ran breathlessly into the room,
saying that Mrs Crabtree ought to comedown stairs
immediately, as Lady Harriet had been suddenly
taken very ill, and, till the Doctor arrived, nobody
knew what to do; so she must give her advice and
Harry and Laura felt excessively shocked to
hear this alarming news, and listened with grave
attention, while Mrs Crabtree told them how ama-
zingly well they ought to behave in her absence,
when they were trusted alone in the nursery, with
nobody to keep them in order, or to see what they
were doing, especially now, as their grandmama
had been taken ill, and would require to be kept
Harry sat in his chair, and might have been
painted as the very picture of a good boy during
nearly twenty minutes after Mrs Crabtree depart-
ed; and Laura placed herself opposite to him, try-
ing to follow so excellent an example, while they
scarcely spoke above a whisper, wondering what
could be the matter with their grandmama, and
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
wishing for once to sec Mrs Crabtree again, that
they might hear how she was. Any one who had
observed Harry and Laura at that time, would have
wondered to see two such quiet, excellent, respect-
able children, and wished that all little boys and
girls were made upon the same pattern; but pre-
sently they began to think that probably Lady
Harriet was not so very ill, as no more bells had
rung during several minutes, and Harry ventured
to look about for some better amusement than sit-
At this moment Laura unluckily perceived on
the table near where they sat, a pair of Mrs Crab-
tree's best scissors, which she had been positively
forbid to touch. The long troublesome ringlets
were as usual hanging over her eyes in a most
teasing manner, so she thought what a good oppor-
tunity this might be to shorten them a very little,
not above an inch or two ; and without consider-
ing a moment longer, she slipped upon tiptoe, with
a frightened look, round the table, and picked up
the scissors in her hand, then hastening towards
a looking-glass, she began snipping off the ends
of her hair. Laura was much diverted to see it
showering down upon the floor, so she cut and
cut on, while the curls fell thicker and faster, till
at last the whole floor was covered with them, and
scarcely a hair left upon her head. Harry went
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
into fits of laughing when he perceived what a ridi-
culous figure Laura had made of herself, and he
turned her round and round to see the havoc she
had made, saying,
You should give all this hair to Mr Mills the
upholsterer, to stuff grandmama's arm-chair with !
At any rate, Laura, if Mrs Crabtree is ever so an-
gry, she can hardly pull you by the hair of the head
again! What a sound sleep you will have to-night,
with no hard curl-papers to torment you!"
Harry had been told five hundred times never
to touch the candles, and threatened with twenty
different punishments if he ever ventured to do
so; but now he amused himself with trying to
snuff one till he snuffed it out. Then he lighted
it again, and tried the experiment once more, but
again the teasing candle went out, as if on purpose
to plague him; so he felt quite provoked. Having
lighted it once more, Harry prepared to carry the
candlestick with him towards the inner nursery,
though afraid to make the smallest noise, in case
it might be taken from him. Before he had gone
five steps, down dropped the extinguisher, then
followed the snuffers with a great crash; but Laura
seemed too busy cropping her ringlets, to notice
what was going on. All the way along upon the
floor, Harry let fall a perfect shower of hot wax,
which spotted the nursery-carpet from the table
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
where he had found the candle, into the next room,
where he disappeared, and shut the door, that no
one might interfere with what he liked to do.
After he had been absent some time, the door
was hastily opened again, and Laura felt surprised
to see Harry come back with his face as red as
a stick of sealing-wax, and his large eyes staring
wider than they had ever stared before, with a
look of rueful consternation.
What is the matter ?" exclaimed Laura, in a
terrified voice. Has anything dreadful happened?
Why do you look so frightened and so surprised ?"
Oh dear oh dear! what shall I do ?" cried
Harry, who seemed scarcely to know how he spoke,
or where he was. I don't know what to do,
What can be the matter ? do tell me at once,
Harry," said Laura, shaking with apprehension.
Speak as fast as you can !"
Will you not tell Mrs Crabtree, nor grand-
mama, nor anybody else? cried Harry, bursting
into tears. I am so very, very sorry, and so
frightened Laura! do you know, I took a candle
into the next room, merely to play with it."
Well! go on, Harry! go on What did you
do with the candle 1"
I only put it on the bed for a single minute,
to see how the flame would look there. Well! do
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
you know, it blazed away famously, and then all
the bedclothes began burning too! Oh! there is
such a terrible fire in the next room you never
saw anything like it! what shall we do ? If old
Andrew were to come up, do you think he could
put it out ? I have shut the door, that Mrs Crab-
tree may not see the flames. Be sure, Laura, to
tell nobody but Andrew."
Laura became terrified at the way she saw poor
Harry in, but when she opened the door to find
out the real state of affairs, oh what a dreadful
sight was there! all the beds were on fire, while
bright, red flames were blazing up to the roof of
the room with a fierce, roaring noise, which it was
perfectly frightful to hear. She screamed aloud
with terror at this alarming scene, while Harry
did all he could to quiet her, and even put his
hand over her mouth, that her cries might not be
heard. Laura now struggled to get loose, and
called louder and louder, till at last every maid
in the house came racing up stairs, three steps at
a time, to know what was the matter. Immediate-
ly upon seeing the flames, they all began screaming
too, in such a loud, discordant way, that it sound-
ed as if a whole flight of crows had come into
the passages. Never was there such an uproar
heard in the house before; for the walls echoed
with a general cry of Fire! fire! fire !"
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
Up flew Mrs Crabtree towards the nursery like
a sky-rocket, scolding furiously, talking louder
than all the others put together, and asking who
had set the house on fire, while Harry and Laura
scarcely knew whether to be most frightened for
the raging flames or the raging Mrs Crabtree;
but, in the mean time, they both shrunk into the
smallest possible size, and hid themselves behind
During all this confusion, old Andrew luckily
remembered that in the morning there had been
a great washing in the laundry, where large tubs
full of water were standing, so he called to the
few maids who had any of their senses remain-
ing, desiring them to assist in carrying up some
buckets, that they might be emptied on the burn-
ing beds, to extinguish the flames if possible.
Everybody was now in a hurry, and all elbow-
ing each other out of the way, while it was most
extraordinary to see how old Andrew exerted him-
self, as if he had been a fireman all his life, while
Mrs Marmalade, the fat cook, who could hardly
carry herself up stairs in general, actively as-
sisted to bring up the great, heavy tubs, and to
pour them out like a cascade upon the burning
curtains, till the nursery-floor looked like a duck-
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
Meantime, Harry and Laura added to the con-
fusion as much as they could, and were busier than
anybody, stealing down the back stairs whenever
Mrs Crabtree was not in sight, and filling their
little jugs with water, which they brought up, as
fast as possible, and dashed upon the flames, till
at last, it is to be feared, they began to feel quite
amused with the bustle, and to be almost sorry
when the conflagration diminished. At one time,
Laura very nearly set her frock on fire, as she
ventured too near, but Harry pulled her back, and
then courageously advanced to discharge a shower
from his own little jug, remaining stationary to
watch the effect, till his face was almost scorched.
At last the fire became less and less, till it went
totally out, but not before the nursery furniture
had been reduced to perfect ruins, besides which,
Betty had her arm sadly burned in the confusion.
Mrs Marmalade's cap was completely destroyed,
and Mrs Crabtree's best gown had so large a hole
burned in the skirt, that she never could wear it
After all was quiet, and the fire completely ex-
tinguished, Major Graham took Laura down stairs
to Lady Harriet's dressing-room, that she might
tell the whole particulars of how this alarming ac-
cident happened in the nursery; for nobody could
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
guess what had caused so sudden and dreadful a
fire, which seemed to have been as unexpected as
a flash of lightning.
Lady Harriet had felt so terrified by the noise
and confusion, that she was out of bed, sitting up
in an arm-chair, supported by pillows, when Laura
entered, at the sight of whom, with her well-crop-
ped head, she uttered an exclamation of perfect
"Why who on earth is that ? Laura, my dear
child! what has become of all your hair ? Were
your curls burned off in the fire 1 or did the fright
make you grow bald? What is the meaning of all
Laura turned perfectly crimson with shame and
distress, for she now felt convinced of her own
great misconduct about the scissors and curls; but
she had been taught on all occasions to speak the
truth, and would rather have died than told a lie,
or even allowed any person to believe what was
not true, therefore she answered in a low, fright-
ened voice, while the tears came into her eyes,
" My hair has not been burned off, grandmama !
Well, child speak out !" said Lady Harriet,
impatiently. Did some hairdresser come to the
house and rob you? "
"Or, are you like the ladies of Carthage, who
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
gave their long hair for bows and arrows ?" asked
Major Graham. I never saw such a little fright
in my life as you look now; but tell us all about
I have been quite as naughty as Harry !" an-
swered Laura, bursting into tears, and sobbing
with grief; I was cutting off my hair with Mrs
Crabtree's scissors all the time that he was setting
the nursery on fire !"
"Did any mortal ever hear of two such little
torments !" exclaimed Major Graham, hardly able
to help laughing. I wonder if anybody else in
the world has suc? mischievous children!"
"It is certainly very strange that you and
Harry never can contrive to be three hours out of a
scrape !" said Lady Harriet, gravely ; "now Frank,
on the contrary, never forgets what I bid him do.
You might suppose he carried Mrs Crabtree in his
pocket, to remind him constantly of his duty; but
there are not two such boys in the world as Frank!"
No," added Major Graham; Harry set the
house on fire, and Frank will set the Thames on
When Laura saw uncle David put on one of his
funny looks, while he spoke in this way to Lady
Harriet, she almost forgot her former fright, and
became surprised to observe her grandmama busily
preparing what she called a coach-wheel, which had
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
been often given as a treat to Harry and herself
when they were particularly good. This delightful
wheel was manufactured by taking a whole round
slice of the loaf, in the centre of which was placed
a large teaspoonful of jelly, after which long spokes
of marmalade, jam, and honey, were made to di-
verge most tastefully in every direction towards
the crust; and Laura watched the progress of this
business with great interest and anxiety, wonder-
ing if it could be hoped that her grandmama real-
ly meant to forgive all her misconduct during the
That coach-wheel is, of course, meant for me!"
said Major Graham, pretending to be very hungry,
and looking slyly at Laura. It cannot possibly
be intended for our little hairdresser here !"
Yes, it is !" answered Lady Harriet, smiling.
" I have some thoughts of excusing Laura this
time, because she always tells me the truth, without
attempting to conceal any foolish thing she does.
It will be very long before she has any hair to cut
off again, so I hope she may be older and wiser by
that time, especially considering that every looking-
glass she sees for six months will make her feel
ashamed of herself. She certainly deserves some
reward for having prevented the house to-night
from being burned to the ground."
I am glad you think so, because here is a shil-
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
ling that has been burning in my pocket for the
last few minutes, as I wished to bestow it on Laura
for having saved all our lives, and if she had be-
haved still better, I might perhaps have given her
a gold watch !"
Laura was busily employed in eating her coach-
wheel, and trying to fancy what the gold watch
would have looked like which she might probably
have got from uncle David, when suddenly the door
burst open, and Mrs Crabtree hurried into the
room, with a look of surprise and alarm, her face
as red as a poppy, and her eyes fixed on the hole
in her best gown, while she spoke so loud and
angrily, that Laura almost trembled.
If you please, my lady! where can Master
Harry be ? I cannot find him in any corner !-
we have been searching all over thehouse, up stairs
and down stairs, in vain. Not a garret or a closet
but has been ransacked, and nobody can guess what
has become of him !"
Did you look up the chimney, Mrs Crabtree ?"
asked Major Graham, laughing to see how excited
'Deed, Sir! it is, no joke," answered Mrs
Crabtree, sulkily; "I am almost afraid Master
Harry has been burned in the fire! The last time
Betty saw him, he was throwing a jug of water
into the flames, and no one has ever seen or heard
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
of him since! There is a great many ashes and
cinders lying about the room, and- "
Do you think, in sober seriousness, Mrs Crab-
tree, that Harry would melt away like a wax-doll,
without asking anybody to extinguish him ?" said
Major Graham, smiling. No no! little boys
are not quite so easily disposed of. I shall find
Harry in less than five minutes, if he is above
But uncle David was quite mistaken in expect-
ing to discover Harry so easily, for he searched
and searched in vain. He looked into every pos-
sible or impossible place-the library, the kitchen,
the garrets, the laundry, the drawing-room, all
without success,-he peeped under the tables, be-
hind the curtains, over the beds, beneath the pil-
lows, and into Mrs Crabtree's bonnet-box,-he
even opened the tea-chest, and looked out at the
window, in case Harry had tumbled over; but no-
where could he be found.
Not a mouse is stirring !" exclaimed Major
Graham, beginning now to look exceedingly grave
and anxious. This is very strange! The house-
door is locked, therefore, unless Harry made his
escape through the key-hole, he must be here!
It is most unaccountable what the little pickle can
have done with himself!"
When Major Graham chose to exert his voice,
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
it was as loud as a trumpet, and could be heard
half a mile off; so he now called out, like thunder,
from the top of the stairs to the bottom, saying,
Hollo, Harry Hollo Come here, my boy !
Nobody shall hurt you Harry where are
Uncle David waited to listen, but all was still-
no answer could be heard, and there was not a
sound in the house, except poor Laura at the bot-
tom of the stairs, sobbing with grief and terror
about Harry having been lost, and Mrs Crabtree
grumbling angrily to herself, on account of the
large hole in her best gown.
By this time Lady Harriet nearly fainted with
fatigue, for she was so very old, and had been ill all
day; so she grew worse and worse, till everybody
said she must go to bed, and try if it would be pos-
sible to fall asleep, assuring her that Harry must
soon be found, as nothing particular could have
happened to him, or some person would have seen
Indeed, my lady! Master Harry is just like a
bad shilling, that is sure to come back," said Mrs
Crabtree, helping her to undress, while she conti-
nued to talk the whole time about the fire, shewing
her own unfortunate gown, describing the trouble
she had taken to save the house from being burned,
and always ending every sentence with a wish that
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
she could lay hands on Harry, to punish him as he
The truth is, I just spoil and indulge the chil-
dren too much, my lady !" added Mrs Crabtree, in
a self-satisfied tone of voice. I really blame my-
self often for being over-easy and kind."
You have nothing to accuse yourself of in that
respect," answered Lady Harriet, unable to help
Your ladyship is very good to say so. Major
Graham is so fond of our young people, that it is
lucky they have some one to keep them in order.
I shall make a duty, my lady, of being more strict
than ever. Master Harry must be made an ex-
ample of this time !" added Mrs Crabtree, angrily
glancing at the hole in her gown. I shall teach
him to remember this day the longest hour he has
Harry will not forget it any how," answered
Lady Harriet, languidly. "Perhaps, Mrs Crabtree,
we might as well not be severe with the poor boy
on this occasion. As the old proverb says, 'There
is no use in pouring water on a drowned mouse.'
Harry has got a sad fright for his pains; and at all
events you must find him first, before he can be
punished. Where can the poor child be hid ?"
"I would give sixpence to find out that, my
lady!" answered Mrs Crabtree, helping Lady Har-
THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
riet into bed, after which she closed the shutters,
put out the candles, and left the room, angrilymut-
tering, Master Harry cares no more for me than
the poker cares for the tongs; but I shall teach
him another story soon."
Lady Harriet now feebly closed her eyes, being
quite exhausted, and was beginning to feel the
pleasant, confused sensation that people have be-
fore going to sleep, when some noise made her sud-
denly start quite awake. She sat up in bed to lis-
ten, but could not be sure whether it had been a
great noise at a distance, or a little noise in the
room; so after waiting two or three minutes, she
sunk back upon the pillows, and tried to forget it.
Again, however, she distinctly heard something
rustling in the bed-curtains, and opened her eyes
to see what could be the matter, but all was dark.
Something seemed to be breathing very near her,
however, and the curtains shook worse than before,
till Lady Harriet became really alarmed.
It must surely be a cat in the room !" thought
she, hastily pulling the bell-rope, till it nearly came
down. That tiresome little animal will make such
a noise, I shall not be able to sleep all night !"
The next minute Lady Harriet was startled
to hear a loud sob close beside her; and when
everybody rushed up stairs to ask what was the
matter, they brought candles to search the room,
THE TERRIBLE FIRE. N
and there was Harry! He lay doubled up in a
corner, and crying as if his heart would break,
yet still endeavouring not to be seen; for Harry
always thought it a terrible disgrace to cry, and
would have concealed himself anywhere, rather
than be observed weeping. Laura burst into tears
also, when she saw what red eyes and pale cheeks
Harry had ; but Mrs Crabtree lost no time in
pulling him out of his place, being quite impa-
tient to begin her scold, and to produce her tawse,
though she received a sad disappointment on this
occasion, as uncle David unexpectedly interfered
to get him off.
Come now Mrs Crabtree," said he, good-
naturedly; "put up the tawse for this time ; you
are rather too fond of the leather. Harry seems
really sorry and frightened, so we must be merci-
ful. The cataract of tears he is shedding now,
would have extinguished the fire if it had come in
time Harry is like a culprit with the rope about
his neck ; but he shall not be executed. Let me
be judge and jury in this case; and my sentence
is a very dreadful one. Harry must sleep all to-
night in the burned nursery, having no other cover-
ing than the burned blankets, with large holes in
them, that he may never forget
" THE TERRIBLE FIRE !"
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Yet theirs the joy
That lifts their steps, that sparkles in their eyes;
That talks or laughs, or runs, or shouts, or plays,
And speaks in all their looks, and all their ways.
NEXT day after the fire, Laura could think of
nothing but what she was to do with the shilling
that uncle David had given her; and a thousand
plans came into her head, while many wants en-
tered her thoughts which never occurred before;
so that if twenty shillings had been in her hand
instead of one, they would all have gone twenty
Lady Harriet advised that it should be laid by
till Laura had fully considered what she would
like best; reminding her very truly, that money is
lame in coming but flies in going away. Many
people can get a shilling, Laura," said her grand-
mama; but the difficulty is to keep it; for you
know the old proverb tells that 'A fool and his
money are soon parted.'"
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Yes, Miss! so give it to me, and I shall take
care of your shilling !" added Mrs Crabtree, hold-
ing out her hand to Laura, who felt that if her
money once disappeared into that capacious
pocket, she would never see it again. Children
have no use for money! That shilling will only
burn a hole in your purse, till it is spent on
some foolish thing or other. You will be losing
your thimble soon, or mislaying your gloves; for
all these things seem to fly in every direction, as
if they got legs and wings as soon as they belong
to you ; so then that shilling may replace what is
Mrs Crabtree looked as if she would eat it up;
but Laura grasped her treasure still tighter in
her hand, exclaiming,
No! no! this is mine! Uncle David never
thought of my shilling being taken care of! He
meant me to do whatever I liked with it! Uncle
David says he cannot endure saving children, and
that he wishes all money were turned into slates,
when little girls keep it longer than a week."
I like that !" said Harry, eagerly; it is so
pleasant to spend money, when the shopkeeper
bows to me over the counter so politely, and
asks what I please to want."
Older people than you like spending money,
Master Harry, and spend whether they have it or
56 THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
no; but the greatest pleasure is to keep it. For
instance, Miss Laura, whatever she sees worth a
shilling in any shop, might be hers if she pleases;
so then it is quite as good as her own. We shall
look in at the bazaar every morning, to fix upon
something that she would like to have, and then
consider of it for two or three days."
Laura thought this plan so very unsatisfac-
tory, that she lost no time in getting her shilling
changed into two sixpences, one of which she
immediately presented to Harry, who positively
refused for a long time to accept of it, insisting
that Laura should rather buy some pretty play-
thing for herself; but she answered that it was
much pleasanter to divide her fortune with Harry,
than to be selfish, and spend it all alone. I am
sure, Harry," added she, if this money had been
yours, you would have said the same thing, and
given the half of what you got to me; so now
let us say no more about that, but tell me what
would be the best use to make of my sixpence ?"
You might buy that fine red morocco purse
we saw in the shop-window yesterday," observed
Harry, looking very serious and anxious, on be-
ing consulted. Do you remember how much
we both wished to have it ?"
But what is the use of a purse, with no money
to keep in it ?" answered Laura, looking earnestly
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
at Harry for more advice. Think again of some-
Would you like a new doll ?"
Yes; but I have nothing to dress her with."
Suppose you buy that pretty geranium in a
red flower-pot at the gardener's !"
If it would only live for a week, I might be
tempted to try; but flowers will always die with
me. They seem to wither when I so much as look
at them. Do you remember that pretty fuchsia
that I almost drowned the first day grandmama
gave it me; and we forgot for a week afterwards
to water it at all. I am not a good flower doctor."
Then buy a gold watch at once," said Har-
ry, laughing; "or a fine pony, with a saddle, to
Now, Harry, pray be quite in earnest. You
know I might as well attempt to buy the moon
as a gold watch ; so think of something else."
"It is very difficult to make a good use of
money," said Harry, pretending to look exceed-
ingly wise. Do you know, Laura, I once found
out that you could have twelve of those large
ship-biscuits we saw at the baker's shop for six-
pence. -Only think! you could feed the whole
town, and make a present to everybody in the
house besides! I daresay Mrs Crabtree might
like one with her tea. All the maids would think
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
them a treat. You could present one to Frank,
another to old Andrew, and there would still be
some left for these poor children at the cottage."
Oh that is the very thing!" cried Laura,
running out of the room to send Andrew off with
a basket, and looking as happy as possible. Not
long afterwards, Frank, who had returned from
school, was standing at the nursery-window, when
he suddenly called out with a voice of surprise
Come here, Harry! look at old Andrew! he
is carrying something tied up in a towel, as large
as his own head! what can it be ?"
That is all for me! These are my biscuits !"
said Laura, running off to receive the parcel, and
though she heard Frank laughing, while Harry
told all about them, she did not care, but brought
her whole collection triumphantly into the nursery.
Oh, fancy! how perfect !" cried Harry, open-
ing the bundle; this is very good fun !"
Here are provisions for a siege !" added Frank.
You have at least got enough for your money,
Take one yourself, Frank !" said she reach-
ing him the largest, and then with the rest all tied
in her apron, Laura proceeded up and down stairs,
making presents to every person she met, till her
whole store was finished; and she felt quite satis-
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
fled and happy because everybody seemed pleased
and returned many thanks, except Mrs Crabtree,
who said she had no teeth to eat such hard things,
which were only fit for sailors going to America
or the West Indies.
"You should have bought me a pound of sugar,
Miss Laura, and that might have been a present
You are too sweet already, Mrs Crabtree !"
said Frank, laughing. I shall send you a sugar-
cane from the West Indies, to beat Harry and
Laura with, and a whole barrel of sugar for your-
self from my own estate."
None of your nonsense, Master Frank! Get
out of the nursery this moment You with an
estate, indeed! You will not have a place to put
your foot upon soon except the top-mast in a
man-of-war, where all the bad boys in a ship are
Perhaps, as you are not to be the captain,
I may escape, and be dining with the officers,
sometimes! I mean to send you home a fine new
India shawl, Mrs Crabtree, the very moment I
arrive at Madras, and some china tea-cups from
"Fiddlesticks and nonsense !" said Mrs Crab-
tree, who sometimes enjoyed a little jesting with
Frank. "Keep all them rattle-traps till you are
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
a rich nabob, and come home to look for Mrs
Frank,-a fine wife she will be Ladies that
get fortunes from India are covered all over with
gold chains, and gold muslins, and scarlet shawls.
She will eat nothing but curry and rice, and never
put her foot to the ground, except to step into
I hope you are not a gipsy, to tell fortunes !"
cried Harry, laughing. Frank would die rather
than take such a wife."
Or, at least I would rather have a tooth
drawn than do it," added Frank, smiling. "Per-
haps I may prefer to marry one of those old
wives on the chimney-tops; but it is too serious
to say I would rather die, because nobody knows
how awful it is to die, till the appointed day
Very true and proper, Master Frank," re-
plied Mrs Crabtree; you speak like a printed
book sometimes, and you deserve a good wife."
Then I shall return home some day with
chests of gold, and let you choose one for me,
as quiet and good-natured as yourself, Mrs Crab-
tree," said Frank, taking up his books and has-
tening off to school, running all the way, as he
was rather late, and Mr Lexicon, the master, had
promised a grand prize for the boy who came
most punctually to his lessons, which everybody
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
declared that Frank was sure to gain, as he had
never once been absent at the right moment.
Major Graham often tried to tease Frank, by
calling him the Professor,"-asking him ques-
tions which it was impossible to answer, and then
pretending to be quite shocked at his ignorance;
but no one ever saw the young scholar put out
of temper by those tricks and trials, for he al-
ways laughed more heartily than any one else at
Now shew me, Frank," said uncle David, one
morning, "how do you advance three steps back-
That is quite impossible, unless you turn me
into a crab."
Tell me, then, which is the principal town in
I there any town there ? I do not recol-
Then so much the worse !-how are you ever
to get through life without knowing the chief
town in Caffraria I am quite ashamed of your
ignorance. Now, let us try a little arithmetic!
Open the door of your understanding and tell me,
when wheat is six shillings a bushel, what is the
price of a penny loaf? Take your slate and cal-
Yes, uncle David, if you will find out, when
TIE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
gooseberries are two shillings a pint, what is the
price of a three-penny tart. You remind me of my
old nursery song-
'The man in the wilderness asked me,
How many strawberries grew in the sea ?
I answered him, as I thought it good,
As many red herrings as grew in the wood.' "
Some days after Laura had distributed the bis-
cuits, she became very sorry for having squandered
her shilling, without attending to Lady Harriet's
good advice, about keeping it carefully in her
pocket for at least a week, to see what would hap-
pen. A very pleasant way of using money now
fell in her way, but she had been a foolish spend-
thrift, so her pockets were empty when she most
wished them to be full. Harry came that morning
after breakfast into the nursery, looking in a great
bustle, and whispering to Laura, "What a pity
your sixpence is gone! but as Mrs Crabtree says,
'We cannot both eat our cake and have it!' "
"No! answered Laura, as seriously as if she
had never thought of this before; "but why do
you so particularly wish my money back to-day ?"
Because such a very nice, funny thing is to be
done this morning. You and I are asked to join
the party, but I am afraid we cannot afford it!
All our little cousins and companions intend going
TIHE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
with Mr Harwood, the tutor, at twelve o'clock, to
climb up to the very top of Arthur Seat, where
they are to dine and have a dance. There will be
about twenty boys and girls of the party, but every-
body is to carry a basket filled with provisions for
dinner, either cakes, or fruit, or biscuits, which are
to be eat on the great rock at the top of the hill.
Now grandmama says we ought to have had money
enough to supply what is necessary, and then we
might have gone; but no one can be admitted who
has not at least sixpence to buy something."
Oh! how provoking !" said Laura, sadly. I
wonder when we shall learn always to follow grand-
mama's advice, for that is sure to turn out best in
the end. I never take my own way without beino
sorry for it afterwards, so I deserve now to be dis-
appointed and remain at home; but, Harry, your
sixpence is still safe; so pray join this delightful
party, and tell me all about it afterwards."
"If it could take us both, I should be very
happy; but I will not go without you, Laura, after
you were so good to me, and gave me this in a
present. No, no! I only wish we could do like the
poor madman grandmama mentioned, who planted
sixpences in the ground that they might grow into
"Pray, what are you two looking so solemn
about ?" asked Frank, hurrying into the room at
64 THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
that moment, on his way to school. "Are you
talking of some mischief that has been done al-
ready, or only about some mischief you are in-
tending to do soon ?"
Neither the one nor the other," answered
Laura. But oh! Frank, I am sure you will be
sorry for us, when we tell you of our sad disap-
She then related the whole story of the party to
Arthur Seat, mentioning that Mr Harwood had
kindly offered to take charge of Harry and herself,
butas her little fortune had been so foolishly squan-
dered, she could not go, and Harry said it would
be impossible to enjoy the fun without her, though
Lady Harriet had given them both leave to be of
All the time that Laura spoke, Frank stood
with his hands in his pockets, where he seemed
evidently searching for something, and when the
whole history was told, he said to Harry, "Let
me see this poor little sixpence of yours! I am
a very clever conjuror, and could perhaps turn it
into a shilling !"
Nonsense, Frank!" said Laura, laughing;
"you might as well turn Harry into uncle David !"
Well! we shall see !" answered Frank, taking
up the sixpence. I have put the money into
this box !-rattle it well !-once twice! thrice!-
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
there, peep in !-now it is a shilling I told you
Frank ran joyously out of the room, being much
amused with the joke, for he had put one of his
own shillings into the box for Harry and Laura,
who were excessively surprised at first, ard felt
really ashamed to take this very kind present from
Frank, when he so seldom had money of his own;
but they knew how generous he was, for he often
repeated that excellent maxim, "It is more blessed
to give than to receive."
After a few minutes, they remembered that no-
thing could prevent them now from going with Mr
Harwood to Arthur Seat, which put Laura into
such' a state of ecstacy, that she danced round the
robm for joy, while Harry jumped upon the tables
and chairs, tumbled head over heels, and called
Betty to come immediately, that they might get
When Mrs Crabtree heard such an uproar, she
hastened also into the room, asking what had hap-
pened to cause this riot, and she became very
angry indeed, to hear that Harry and Laura had
both got leave to join in this grand expedition.
You will be spoiling all your clothes, and get-
ting yourselves into a heat 1 I wonder her lady-
ship allows this! How much better you would
be taking a quiet walk with me in the gardens! I
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
shall really speak to Lady Harriet about it! The
air must be very cold on the top of them great
mountains! I am sure you will both have colds
for a month after this tomfoolery."
Oh no, Mrs Crabtree! I promise not to catch
cold !" cried Harry, eagerly; and, besides, you
can scarcely prevent our going now, for grand-
mama has set out on her long airing in the car-
riage, so there is nobody for you to ask about
keeping us at home except uncle David."
Mrs Crabtree knew from experience, that Ma-
jor Graham was a hopeless case, as he always took
part with the children, and liked nothing so much
for old and young as '' a ploy;" so she grumbled
on to herself, while her eyes looked as sharp as
a pair of scissors, with rage. You will come
back turned into scarecrows, with all your nice,
clean clothes in tatters," said she, angrily; but
if there is so much as a speck upon this best
new jacket and trousers, I shall know the reason
What a comfort it would be, if there were no
such things in the world as 'new clothes,' for I
am always so much happier in the old ones," said
Harry. "People at the shops should sell clothes
that will never either dirty or tear."
You ought to be dressed in fur, like Robin-
son Crusoe; or sent out naked, like the little
__ ~ ~ ~ -YlMOP.-
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE. 67
savages," said Mrs Crabtree; "or painted black
and blue like them wild old Britons that lived here
I am black and blue sometimes, without be-
ing painted," said Harry, escaping to the door.
" Goodbye, Mrs Crabtree I hope you will not
die of weariness without us! On our return we
shall tell you all our delightful adventures."
About half an hour afterwards, Harry and Laura
were seen hurrying out of Mrs Weddel's pastry-
shop, bearing little covered baskets in their hands,
but nobody could guess what was in them. They
whispered and laughed together with merry faces,
looking the very pictures of happiness, and running
along as fast as they could to join the noisy party
of their cousins and companions, almost fearing
that Mr Harwood might have set off without them.
Frank often called him Mr Punctuality," as he
was so very particular about his scholars being
in good time on all occasions; and certainly YIr
Harwood carried his watch more in his hand than
in his pocket, being in the habit of constantly
looking to see that nobody arrived too late. Mail-
coaches or steam-boats could hardly keep the time
better, when an hour had once been named; and
the last words that Harry heard when he was in-
vited were, Remember sharp twelve."
The great clock of St Andrew's Church was
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
busy striking that hour, and every little clock in
the town was saying the same thing, when Mr
Harwood himself, with his watch in his hand,
opened the door, and walked out, followed by a
dozen of merry-faced boys and girls, all speaking
at once, and vociferating louder than the clocks,
as if they thought everybody had grown deaf.
I shall reach the top of Arthur Seat first,"
said Peter Grey. All follow me, for I know the
shortest way. It is only a hop, step, and a jump !"
"Rather a long step !" cried Robert Fordyce.
But I could lead you a much better way, though
I shall shew it to nobody but myself."
We must certainly drink water at St Anthony's
Well," observed Laura; "because whatever any
one wishes for when he tastes it, is sure to hap-
Then I shall wish that some person may give
me a new doll," said Mary Forrester. My old
on* is only fit for being lady's maid to a fine new
I am in ninety-nine minds what to wish for,"
exclaimed Harry; "we must take care not to be
like the foolish old woman in the fairy tale, who
got only a yard of black pudding."
; I shall ask for a piebald pony, with a whip, a
saddle, and a bridle !" cried Peter Grey; "and
for a week's holidays,-and a new watch,-and a
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
spade,-and a box of French plums,-and to be
first at the top of Arthur Seat,-and-and-"
Stop, Peter! stop! you can only have one
wish at St Anthony's Well," interrupted Mr Har-
wood. If you ask more, you lose all."
"That is very hard; for I want everything,"
replied Peter. What are you wishing for, Sir? "
What shall I ask for ?" said Mr Harwood, re-
flecting to himself. "I have not a want in the
0 yes, Sir! you must wish for something !"
cried the whole party, eagerly. "Do invent some-
thing to ask, Mr Harwood !"
Then I wish you may all behave well till we
reach the top of Arthur Seat, and all come safely
You may be sure of that already !" said
Peter, laughing. I set such a very good ex-
ample to all my companions, that they never be-
have ill when I am present,-no! not even by ac-
cident When Dr Algebra examined our class
to-day, he asked Mr Lexicon, What has become
of the best boy in your school this morning ?' and
the answer was, Of course you mean Peter Grey!
He is gone to the top of Arthur Seat with that
excellent man, Mr Harwood!' "
"Indeed !-and pray, Master Peter, what bird
whispered this story into your ear, seeing it has
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
all happened since we left home ?-but people who
are praised by nobody else, often take to praising
"Who knows better ?-and here is Harry Graham,
the very ditto of myself,-so steady he might be
fit to drill a whole regiment. We shall lead the
party quite safely up the hill, and down again,
without any ladders."
"And without wings," added Harry, laughing;
"but what are we to draw water out of the well
with?-here are neither buckets, nor tumblers,
nor glasses !"
I could lend you my thimble !" said Laura,
searching her pocket. That will hold enough
of water for one wish, and every person may have
the loan of it in turn."
"This is the very first time your thimble has
been of use to anybody!" said Harry, slyly; but
I daresay it is not worn into holes with too much
sewing, therefore it will make a famous little ma-
gical cup for St Anthony's Well. You know the
fairies who dance here by moonlight, lay their
table-cloth upon a mushroom, and sit round it, to
be merry, but I never heard what they use for a
Harry now proceeded briskly along to the well,
singing, as he went, a song which had been taught
him by uncle David, beginning,
TIE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
I wish I were a brewer's horse,
Five quarters of a year,
I'd place my head where was my tail,
And drink up all the beer.
Before long the whole party seated themselves
in a circle on the grass round St Anthony's Well,
while any stranger who chanced to pass might
have supposed, from the noise and merriment,
that the saint had filled his well with champagne
and punch for the occasion, as everybody seemed
perfectly tipsy with happiness. Mr Harwood
laughed prodigiously at some of the jokes, and
made a few of his own, which were none of the
best, though they caused the most laughter, for
the boys thought it very surprising that so grave
and great a man should make a joke at all.
When Mary Forrester drank her thimbleful of
water, and wished for a new doll, Peter and Harry
privately cut out a face upon a red-cheeked apple,
making the eyes, nose, and mouth, after which,
they hastily dressed it up in pocket handkerchiefs,
and gave her this present from the fairies, which
looked so very like what she had asked for that
the laugh which followed was loud and long. Af-
terwards Peter swallowed his draught, calling
loudly for a piebald pony, when Harry, in his
white trousers and dark jacket, went upon all-
fours, and let Peter mount on his back. It was
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
very difficult, however, to get Peter off again, for
he enjoyed the fun excessively, and stuck to his
seat like Sinbad's old man of the sea, till at last
Harry rolled on his back, tumbling Peter head
over heels into St Anthony's Well, upon seeing
which, Mr Harwood rose, saying, he had certain-
ly lost his own wish, as they had behaved ill, and
met with an accident already. Harry laughingly
proposed that Peter should be carefully hung up-
on a tree to dry, till they all came down again;
but the mischievous boy ran off so fast, he was
almost out of sight in a moment, saying, Now
for the top of Arthur Seat, and I shall grow dry
with the fatigue of climbing."
The boys and girls immediately scattered them-
selves all over the hill, getting on the best way
they could, and trying who could scramble up
fastest, but the grass was quite short, and as slip-
pery as ice, therefore it became every moment
more difficult to stand, and still more difficult to
climb. The whole party began sliding whether
they liked it or not, and staggered and tried to
grasp the turf, but there was nothing to hold,
while occasionally a shower of stones and gravel
came down from Peter, who pretended they fell
Oh, Harry !" cried Laura, panting for breath,
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
while she looked both frightened and fatigued.
" if this were not a party of pleasure, I think we
are sometimes quite as happy in our own gar-
dens! People must be very miserable at home,
before they come here to be amused! I wish we
were cats, or goats, or anything that can stand
upon a hill without feeling giddy."
I think this is very good fun !" answered
Harry, gasping, and trying not to tumble for the
twentieth time; you would like, perhaps, to be
back in the nursery with Mrs Crabtree."
No! no! I am not quite so bad as that! But
Harry! do you ever really expect to reach the
top ? for I never shall; so I mean to sit down
quietly here, and wait till you all return."
I have a better plan than that, Laura You
shall sit upon the highest point of Arthur Seat
as well as anybody, before either of us is an hour
older Let me go first, because I get on famous-
ly, and you must never look behind, but keep
tight hold of my jacket, so then every step I ad-
vance will pull you up also."
Laura was delighted with this plan, which suc-
ceeded perfectly well, but they ascended rather
slowly, as it was exceedingly fatiguing to Harry,
who looked quite happy all the time to be of use;
for he always felt glad when he could do anything
for anybody, more particularly for either Laura or
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Frank. Now, the whole party was at last safely
assembled on the very highest point of Arthur
Seat, so the boys threw their caps up in the air,
and gave three tremendous cheers, which fright-
ened the very crows over their heads, and sent a
flock of sheep scampering down the mountain side.
After that, they planted Mr Harwood's walking-
stick in the ground, for a staff, while Harry tore off
the blue silk handkerchief which Mrs Crabtree had
tied about his neck, and without caring whether he
caught cold or not, he fastened it on the pole for
a flag, being quite delighted to see how it waved
in the wind most triumphantly, looking very like
what sailors put up when they take possession of
a desert island.
"Now, for business!" said Mr Harwood, sitting
down on the rock, and uncovering a prodigious
cake, nearly as large as a cheese, which he had
taken the trouble to carry, with great difficulty, up
the hill. I suppose nobody is hungry after our
long walk! Let us see what all the baskets con-
Not a moment was lost in seating themselves on
the grass, while the stores were displayed, amidst
shouts of laughter and applause which generally
followed whatever came forth. Sandwiches, or, as
Peter Grey called them, savages," gingerbread,
cakes, and fruit, all appeared in turn. Robert For-
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
dyce brought a dozen of hard-boiled eggs, all dyed
different colours, blue, green, pink, and yellow, but
not one was white. Edmund Ashford produced a
collection of very sour-looking apples, and Charles
Forrester shewed a number of little gooseberry
tarts; but when it became time for Peter's basket
to be opened, it contained nothing except a knife
and a fork to cut up whatever his companions would
"Peter! Peter! you shabby fellow!" said Charles
Forrester, reaching him one of his tarts, you
should be put in the tread-mill as a sturdy beg-
Or thrown down from the top of this preci-
pice," added Harry,giving him a cake. "I wonder
you can look any of us in the face, Peter!"
"I have heard," said Mr Harwood, that a
stone is shewn in Ireland, called 'the stone of
Blarney,' and whoever kisses it, is never afterwards
ashamed of anything he does. Our friend Peter
has probably passed that way lately !"
At any rate, I am not likely to be starved to
death amongst you all!" answered the impudent
boy, demolishing every thing he could get; and it
is believed that Peter ate, on this memorable oc-
casion, three times more than any other person, as
each of the party offered him something, and he
never was heard to say, No!"
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
I could swallow Arthur Seat, if it were turned
into a plum-pudding," said he, pocketing buns,
apples, eggs, walnuts, biscuits, and almonds, till
his coat stuck out all round like a balloon. "Has
any one anything more to spare ?"
Did you ever hear," said Mr Harwood, "that
a pigeon eats its own weight of food every day?
Now, I am sure, you and I know one boy in the
world, Peter, who could do as much."
What is to be done with that prodigious cake
you carried up here, Mr Harwood ?" answered
Peter, casting a devouring eye upon it; "the crust
seems as hard as a rhinoceros' skin, but I daresay
it is very good. One could not be sure, however,
without tasting it! I hope you are not going to
take the trouble of carrying that heavy load back
How very polite you are become all on a sud-
den, Peter !" said Laura, laughing. I should be
very sorry to attempt carrying that cake to the
bottom of the hill, for we would both roll down
the shortest way together."
I am not over-anxious to try it either, ob-
served Charles Forrester, shaking his head.-
Even Peter, though his mouth is constantly ajar,
would find that cake rather heavy to carry, either
as an inside or an outside passenger."
I can scarcely lift it at all!" continued Laura,
TH1F PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
when Mr Harwood had again tied it up in the
towel; What can be done ?"
Here is the very best plan !" cried Harry, sud-
denly seizing the prodigious cake; and before any
body could hinder him, he gave it a tremendous
push off the steepest part of Arthur Seat, so that
it rolled down like a wheel, over stones and pre-
cipices, jumping and hopping along with wonder-
ful rapidity, amidst the cheers and laughter of all
the children, till at last it reached the bottom of
the hill, when a general clapping of hands ensued.
Now for a race!" cried Harry, becoming more
and more eager. "The first boy or girl who
reaches that cake shall have it all to himself!"
Mr Harwood tried with all his might to stop
the commotion, and called out that they must go
quietly down the bank, for Harry had no right
to give away the cake, or to make them break
their legs and arms with racing down such a
hill. But he might as well have spoken to the
east wind, and asked it not to blow. The whole
party dispersed, like a hive of bees that has been
upset; and in a moment they were in full career
after the make.
Some of the boys tried to roll down, hoping to
get on more quickly. Others endeavoured to slide,
and several attempted to run, but they all fell;
and many of them might have been tumblers at
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Sadler's Wells, they tumbled over and over so
cleverly. Peter Grey's hat was blown away, but
he did not stop to catch it. Charlie Hume lost
his shoe. Robert Fordyce sprained his ankle, and
every one of the girls tore her frock. It was a
frightful scene; such devastation of bonnets and
jackets as had never been known before; while Mr
Harwood looked like the general of a defeated
army, calling till he became hoarse, and running
till he was out of breath, vainly trying thus to stop
the confusion, and to bring the stragglers back in
Meantime Harry and Peter were far before the
rest, though Edward Ashford was following hard
after them in desperate haste, as if he still hoped
to overtake their steps. Suddenly, however, a
loud cry of distress was heard overhead; and when
Harry looked up, he saw so very alarming a sight,
that he could scarcely believe his eyes, and almost
screamed out himself with the fright it gave him,
while he seemed to forget in a moment, the race,
Peter Grey, and the prodigious cake.
Laura had been very anxious not to trouble
Harry with taking care of her in coming down the
bank again; for she saw that during all this fun
about the cake, he perfectly forgot that she was
not accustomed every day to such a scramble on
the hills, and would have required some help.
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
After looking down on every side of the descent,
and thinking that each appeared steeper than an-
other, while they all made her equally giddy, Laura
determined to venture on a part of the hill which
seemed rather less precipitous than the rest; but
it completely cheated her, being the most difficult
and dangerous part of Arthur Seat. The slope
became steeper and steeper at every step; but
Laura always tried to hope her path might grow
better, till at last she reached a place where it was
impossible to stop herself. Down she went! down!
down! whether she or would not, screaming and
sliding on a long slippery bank, till she reached
the very edge of a dangerous precipice, which ap-
peared higher than the side of a room. Laura then
grappled hold of some stones and grass, calling
loudly for help, while scarcely able to keep from
falling into the deep ravine, which would probably
have killed her. Her screams were echoed all
over the hill, when Harry, seeing her frightful situ-
ation, clambered up the bank faster than any
lamplighter, and immediately flew to Laura's as-
sistance, who was now really hanging over the
chasm, quite unable to help herself. At last he
reached the place where poor Laura lay, and seized
hold of her by the frock; but for some time it
seemed an equal chance whether she dragged him
into the hole, or he pulled her away from it.
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Luckily, however, by a great effort, Harry suc-
ceeded in delivering Laura, whom he placed upon
a secure situation, and then, having waited pa-
tiently till she recovered from the fright, he led
her carefully and kindly down to the bottom of
Now, all the boys had already got there, and a
violent dispute was going on about which of them
first reached the cake. Peter Grey had pushed
down Edward Ashford, who caught hold of Ro-
bert Fordyce, and they all three rolled to the bot-
tom together, so that nobody could tell which
had won the race; while Mr Harwood laboured
in vain to convince them that the cake belonged
neither to the one nor the other, being his own
They all laughed at Harry for being distanced,
and arriving last; while Mr Harwood watched
him coming down, and was pleased to observe
how carefully he attended to Laura, though, still
being annoyed at the riot and confusion which
Harry had occasioned, he determined to appear
exceedingly angry, and put on a very terrible
Hollo young gentleman what shall I do to
you for beginning this uproar ? As the old pro-
verb says, One fool makes many.' How dare
you roll my fine cake down the hill in this way,
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
and send everybody rolling after it ? Look me in
the face, and say you are ashamed of yourself!"
Harry looked at Mr Harwood-and Mr Har-
wood looked at Harry. They both tried to seem
very grave and serious, but somehow Harry's
eyes glittered very brightly, and two little dim-
ples might be seen in his cheeks. Mr Harwood
had his eye-brows gathered into a terrible frown,
but still his eyes were likewise sparkling, and his
mouth seemed to be pursed up in a most comical
manner. After staring at each other for several
minutes, both Mr Harwood and Harry burst into
a prodigious fit of laughing, and nobody could
tell which began first or laughed longest.
Master Graham! you must send a new frock to
every little girl of the party, and a suit of clothes
to each of the boys, for having caused theirs to
be all destroyed. I really meant to punish you
severely for beginning such a riot, but something
has made me change my mind. In almost every
moment of our lives, we either act amiably or un-
amiably; and I observed you treat Miss Laura so
kindly and properly all this morning, that I shall
say not another word about
( THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.'
THE LAST CLEAN FROCK.
"For," said she, in spite of what grandmana taught her,
I'm really remarkably fond of the water."
She splashed, and she dashed, and she turned herself round,
And heartily wished herself safe on the ground.
ONCE upon a time Harry and Laura had got into
so many scrapes, that there seemed really no end
to their misconduct. They generally forgot to
learn any lessons -often tore their books-drew
pictures on their slates,instead of calculating sums
-and made the pages of their copy-books into
boats; besides which, Mrs Crabtree caught them
one day, when a party of officers dined at Lady
Harriet's, with two of the captains' sword-belts
buckled round their waists, and cocked hats upon
their heads, while they beat the crown of a gen-
tleman's hat with a walking-stick, to sound like